Recalling that a year ago, he was in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. John J. McGuiness reminded employees of the Natick Soldier Systems Center how important their work is, that they need to take care of each other over the holidays, and that they shouldn't forget deployed service members.

McGuiness, now NSSC's senior commander, was speaking Nov. 18 during the installation's annual Community Thanksgiving Service, held at Hunter Auditorium.

"This is truly a special place," McGuiness said. "What you do for Soldiers every, single day makes a difference, not only in their lives, but in the lives of their families."

Pointing out that these are "challenging times," McGuiness added that stresses increase for some over the holidays.

"I would just ask you to look after each other again," McGuiness said. "We all have to take care of each other so that we can take care of other, bigger things.

"Keep those deployed Soldiers in your thoughts and prayers."

Hugh Hardin, U.S. Army Garrison-Natick deputy commander, introduced McGuiness.

"We truly have many things to be thankful for," Hardin told the audience. "It is also my sincere hope that we find thankfulness for those heroes who are currently downrange who have been and are deployed around the world.

"In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, 'Let us remember that as much has been given to us, much will be expected of us and that true homage comes from the heart as well as the lips and shows itself in deeds.'"

Chaplain (Maj.) Rick Stevenson said that people tend to balance gratitude with the worries in their lives.

"We have concerns and gratitude," Stevenson said. "We live our lives at that intersection. So it is a good thing when we stop for a moment and reflect on that which we have that gives us thanks. It does a lot of good."

A collection was taken during the service for Soldiers and civilians in need during the holidays. The proceeds will be used to purchase gift cards for them.

The Bay State Winds, the clarinet quartet of the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty, provided music during the service. They also played at the Thanksgiving Luncheon that followed.